Every now and then my faith in humanity gets restored.
A homeless man named Billy Ray Harris was asking for change under an overpass in Missouri when a woman named Sarah Darling decided to give him the contents of her coin purse. Darling had forgotten that earlier in the day she had put her diamond wedding ring in that coin purse because it was giving her a rash. The next day, she realized that she had accidentally dropped the ring in Harris’s cup. In a panic she drove back to where he had been sitting but to no avail. She came back the day after and was fortunate enough to find Billy Ray. She asked him about the ring and he replied that he had kept it for her and he returned it with no questions asked.
Darling was so floored by Billy Ray’s thoughtfulness and honesty that she set up a small online donation page for him on GiveFoward. The story was picked up by local and several national news outlets and then it went viral. The Internet opened their pocket books to show their approval and Darling’s initial goal of $1,000 has now been eclipsed several times over. Billy Ray’s GiveFoward currently has over $125,000 donated to him, and it’s only eight days into a 90 day campaign! I’m shocked, not just by BIlly Ray’s generosity, but by the generosity of all the Internet donors.
I find it humbling to see a man with so little be so considerate and thoughtful to a woman who has so much more than he does. It would have been very easy for him to justify pawning Darling’s ring to buy himself food and clothes. It’s even more humbling that the masses of the Internet would rally around this man and give such an outpouring of support and encouragement. This is the type of thing that the Internet was made for: helping a noble man with small donations from all over.
This situation reminds me of the the story a few months ago about a bus monitor named Karen Klein who was humiliated by a group of 12 and 13 year old boys in a video posted to Youtube that went viral. The children were so ruthless that she began to weep in the video, and I cried for her the first time that I saw it. In the wake of the video, a Canadian by the name of Max Sidorov started a donation page on Indiegogo in an attempt to raise $5,000 so Karen could take a vacation. By the time the campaign ended he had raised over $700,000 for her. She used the money to pay off her car and house, start an anti-bullying charity and now travels the country spreading her anti-bullying message.
In both these situations, technology-minded humanitarians used the Internet to raise money for two worthwhile people. By crowd sourcing donations from the entire population of the Internet they were able to give more than they could possibly have imagined. Something about seeing a good deed get rewarded by the generosity of others makes me feel happy, and glad to be a human being.
Instead of using the Internet to spread hate, we can use it to spread joy and kindness. The Internet has the potential the change the world for the better, as long as we properly utilize it. We should aim to use it in ways like this more often.